The Street

Disney’s Marvel scraps planned joint venture with defence contractor after fans lash out

The two had planned an educational venture together, but Marvel fans took to social media to express their dismay over the tie-in

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 1:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 1:25pm

By Kinsey Grant

The Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Entertainment unit has called off a joint venture it had planned with Northrop Grumman Corp. after fans of the superhero franchise attacked the defence contractor on social media.

Marvel had planned to launch the venture at the New York Comic Con event last weekend with a self-produced film about space exploration that starred Northrop Grumman employees. But after Marvel fans viciously attacked the company for its tie-in with the nation’s fifth-largest defence company by sales, Marvel scrapped the joint venture, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The social media firestorm was ignited after Marvel released a teaser for a new Avengers comic featuring NGENs, or Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus. The characters in the comic were supposed to promote science education, but Marvel fans drew comparison to the company’s Tony Stark character, who closes his fictional defence firm after deciding it did more harm than good in the “Iron Man” franchise.

Marvel and Northrop Grumman had two more short films planned, insiders said, in addition to a magazine tie-in geared toward promoting STEM education. Defence and aerospace companies such as Northrop Grumman have invested heartily in science, technology, engineering and math programmes to offset future concerns over a shortage of staff.

Marvel said in a statement that its prime motivation was education, but that “spirit” had not come across. “This was part of our broader effort to reach new audiences and bring attention to the value of science and technology,” the company said. “We are disappointed that Marvel chose not to proceed with the partnership.”

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